Advertisements

Posts Tagged ‘English Teaching’

Down Wiv Skool

24/08/2016

Weary Wanderings for Wednesdays!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I loathed school, I mean really really loathed it. Even now – seventeen years after my torture schooling ended (bloody hell that makes me feel old :-() – when I find myself on the wrong side of the gates, my heart beats wildly and I struggle to catch my breath until freedom has been safely regained.

Knowing that I would have to spend several days traipsing the hallowed halls, filled me with not a little trepidation.

So as a panic-reducing displacement activity, I attempted to distract myself by studying the idiosyncrasies of Italian school life…

Most noticeable is that Italian children talk A LOT. The noise levels in the classroom, in the dining hall, in the playground, and indeed anywhere where there is more than one bimbo italiano are excruciating.

They also find sitting still for longer than…

View original post 617 more words

Advertisements

A Translator Very Good Am I

23/08/2016

Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

For a few days I fielded some rather odd questions from Fiona;

Fiona: Would you say ‘a sea borough’ or ‘a sea district’?

SV: What the…? Let me have a look at that.

Fiona: No, no. It’s ok. I’ll get you to check it afterwards.

I struggled to concentrate as she redirected her strange questioning to an Italian colleague, X;

Fiona: X, would you say ‘the San Marco palace is made revived on the will of the Filippi’s family’ or ‘the Filippi’s family made will the San Marco palace to revived’?

X: Ummm… I think the second one.

SV: ?@!*!@*?!

Needless to say, the document ended up on my desk, and after tearing my hair out over it for less than a day, I was treated to the following haranguing;

Fiona: Why are you taking so long to…

View original post 778 more words

Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (final part)

22/08/2016

Memories for Mondays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

My frustrations were somewhat alleviated by the arrival of ten other English speakers to help prepare the summer camps.

All ex-tutors from previous years or actors from the school theatre tour, they brought a much-needed breath of fresh air and sanity. Even Shrek seemed to find it in him to generously overlook their exuberant English-Speakingness; copping sly squeezes of the pretty girls and jovially slapping the boys on the back.

So having spent a fortnight stapling sheets of paper and stuffing them into 250 plastic folders (in funereal silence, Fiona’s orders – she objected to the fact that I was conversing with a colleague in Spanish because she couldn’t understand what we were saying) I was allowed to escape the office and start training with them.

After a few days singing the camp song (a ditty so mind-bogglingly…

View original post 342 more words

Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (part two)

19/08/2016

Flashback Friday!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

After the ‘business trip’, the director asked me if thought I would be capable of taking over that side of the job.

Ummm, how can I put this…

I think I would probably be as capable as the next man of zigzagging aimlessly round the Italian countryside, wasting hours and hours and hours due to sheer incompetence before talking rubbish to Italian parents for half an hour. However, despite being aware of the very great honour bestowed on me by the assumption that one day I might be a suitable candidate for filling the great man’s shoes, I had to decline. Leaving (and paying someone to look after) Pooch for five days out of every seven, for an itinerant life of tedium was not exactly what I had in mind.

That having been explained (in words not dissimilar…

View original post 372 more words

Job Disatisfaction Guaranteed (part one)

18/08/2016

Tired Old Tales for Thursdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

A little over three months ago I saw an advertisement for some sort of office job in Italy. This was lucky, because any sort of office job in Italy was exactly what I was looking for. The company even had an interesting concept to sweeten the bitter pill of shackling myself to a desk once again – English theatre productions in Italian schools, and English summer camps in Italy.

I applied.

The first blow was the monthly salary. I had been prepared for the fact that Italian salaries were very low, but this was worse than peanuts. Even monkeys would have politely declined.

Then the director told me that if I took the job I had to stay with them for a reasonable amount of time.

“That’s ok,” thought I, “truthfully I had been considering nine months, but…

View original post 493 more words

The Root of All Evil

22/07/2012

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Greetings, Dear Readers!

This is just a quick note to apologise for my shocking lack of commitment to Status Viatoris in recent weeks… A plethora of brand spanking new activities of the money-earning variety has been keeping me on my toes and distracted enough to banish any flicker of literary creativity to the most rear of back burners.

(Coupled with the fact that the miserable state of my bank balance has forced me to give considerably less time and attention to non-profit making endeavours – AKA blogging 😦 ).

The postcards have not yet arrived back from the printers, but when they do they will be taking up (hopefully temporary) residence on the proud shelves of Ci Vuole; the Antique/Bits’n’Bobs/Souvenir emporium that has been the most important of my projects over the last three and a half weeks.

Despite the lack of foresight involved in not getting the shop back up and running long before the busy summer season, I am actually very happy with the progress that has been made since being summoned for (unofficial) managerial purposes  at the end of June. Local maps, books on local history and the extremely popular one Euro table have joined olive oil soap, pot pourri, candles and an impressive collection of pewter, antique furniture and assorted knick knacks in order to provide tourists and locals with whatever their hearts may desire.

Ish.

(I am still waiting for the local jams, honeys and other delicacies, still trying to source some tasty Italian sweeties and still trying to decide whether or not to rape my nostrils with a selection of scented candles – the item most requested by seemingly olfactorally-challenged locals).

Slotted in between Ci Vuole opening times, I now also boast some language students, the exact sort I attempted to court two years ago, but who apparently needed the intervening twenty-four months in order to assess whether or not my linguistic credentials were to be trusted.

Or something.

Teaching this time round is an entirely different ballgame from my experiences eleven years ago in Spain – perhaps because I am not planning it as a full time activity; but probably also because my dubious levels of maturity have since been inadvertently  tinged by a degree of patience.

Disconcertingly, I also find myself in the position of having more foreign students wishing to learn Italian than Italians after a smattering of English; but despite owning up to an utterly imperfect grasp of Italian  (pun a happy coincidence), they so far profess to be happy with my attempts at imparting the language.

(And who knows, may be the grammar overload will eventually push me into speaking an Italian un-bastardised by the French and Spanish I currently have spinning around up top).

So it is due to the inconveniently time-consuming, but sadly necessary evil known as the acquisition of hard cash that Status Viatoris may suffer from occasional periods of neglect over the following weeks. That said, it (and you) will never be far from my mind and I solemnly promise to splash these pages with fascinating tit bits and gossipy nuggets as and when they occur.

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer and I would just like to send very much love to the fabulous Mr and Mrs F, Status Viatoris readers extraordinaires, and now the proud parents of a simply exquisite baby boy.

Love,

Status Viatoris

and Pooch (who although not busy at all, nevertheless remains singularly disinclined to get off the sofa in order to fulfil his blogging responsibilities).

I’ll Show You Mine

27/07/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have finally got myself a language exchange partner.

Sadly not the 6ft, raven-haired, dark-eyed hunk of unruly Italian masculinity that I had been hoping for; more a 4ft10, brown-haired, dark-eyed slip of Italian womanhood, but very welcome nevertheless. Especially in light of the fact that I seem to get away with conversing in Italian far more than she gets to practise her English.

Being single girls, and of roughly the same age, most of our conversations in both languages so far have been about boys. She has been giving me the low-down on Italian men – confirming most of what I had originally suspected, and I have been making stuff up about British ones.

Not having been anywhere near one since I was eighteen, my fictional Brit seems to have taken the middle ground somewhere between Hugh Grant and the emotionally unavailable bricklayer who occupied my romantic delusions before I left England in the mid 1990s.

Unfortunately this may leave her a little ill-equipped to deal with the reality when she hits London in September.

She has also been teaching me the slang for penis in all the Italian dialects she can think of. Now this might seem like a pointless task, but at least I can be on my guard wherever I may go in the country. And if someone asks me to come and have a gander at his, I won’t misunderstand and think he just wants to show me something totally innocuous like puppies, etchings, or photos of Albania.

This is Status Viatoris, improving certain aspects of her italiano, in Italy 😉

Just Another Brick…

27/06/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I had been home for less than 24 hours after my scholastic adventures oop norf, when it became apparent that I would have to retrace my steps. A problem I had thought to be resolved suddenly flared up again, and two of my four tutors were asked to leave.

Rather than going back to ponce about supervise, this time I was going back to be a stand-in teacher until reinforcements could be sent.

Oh. Flaming. Nora.

My first problem was Pooch. I resolved that by popping him in the car and taking him with me (Pooch makes himself almost sick with excitement if I pack an overnight bag for him; trips of any description are his most favouritist things). The second problem was that I CANNOT CONTROL MORE THAN ONE CHILD AT ANY ONE TIME.

A potentially more serious problem bearing in mind that I was to be confronted with twelve of them, in a classroom, on my own.

All my English teaching experience thus far has been in the comfort of my own home, with the civilised addition of one, occasionally two other people. Usually adults. My one foray in a kiddy classroom ended in tears (my own) nearly ten years ago, and I have eschewed the temptation to return ever since.

So, off I roared back up the motorway, this time with Pooch ensconced happily on the back seat, ears flapping in the breeze, nose whiffling in anticipation of the crisps that were occasionally hurled his way.

The disgraced couple were still there when I arrived. To give you a potted history, despite being reasonably intelligent people with the potential to be good tutors, they had proceeded to snog their way through the training. That did not endear them greatly to either their fellow tutors, the supervisors or the company.

They then kicked up a huge stink about not being in the same host families, despite it not being company policy, despite the fact that they were still spending all day and most of every evening together, and despite the fact that camp only lasted for two weeks.

Their dissatisfaction with the situation led to them arguing furiously and repeatedly at camp, whilst ignoring their students, who then went home and told mamma and papa that two of the tutors nearly came to blows.

Eventually the host families rang me to say that the situation was untenable, and they had to go.

So they went.

Except they didn’t.

They waited for me in the hope that I would give them money.

I didn’t.

So they really did go, hurling threats to the company over their shoulders as they walked.

To be honest, none of it really registered. All my panicked brain could cope with was the thought that in not very many minutes I would be standing in front of a room full of twelve years olds. A sure-fire recipe for disaster.

And it was even worse than that. Not for a single moment in two loooong days did I manage to silence all twelve of my charges at the same time. Not a single moment. The only thing that kept them amused were endless games of Scattergories (thank you very much fellow supervisor, for that stroke of genius), the rest of the time I just screamed myself hoarse as they ran around creating havoc.

To all the teachers and educators out there; you have my utmost respect and admiration. Hats off. Chapeau. You should definitely be paid a lot more than you are.

It was a broken woman who limped out of that school on Friday afternoon, only to be faced with a three-hour journey home accompanied by a very bouncy and contented Pooch. For in between screaming at grumpy pre-teens, I had been rushing backwards and forwards to the B&B to take HRP out on long walks through the surrounding fields. Then, whilst I returned to the fray, His Royal Poochness got to sleep off his excursions in a comfy hotel room.

Never mind. I am now very much on the homeward stretch. Only three more working days to freedom!

This is Status Viatoris, still recovering, in Italy.

Down Wiv Skool

26/06/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I loathed school, I mean really really loathed it. Even now – seventeen years after my torture schooling ended (bloody hell that makes me feel old :-() – when I find myself on the wrong side of the gates, my heart beats wildly and I struggle to catch my breath until freedom has been safely regained.

Knowing that I would have to spend several days traipsing the hallowed halls, filled me with not a little trepidation.

So as a panic-reducing displacement activity, I attempted to distract myself by studying the idiosyncrasies of Italian school life…

Most noticeable is that Italian children talk A LOT. The noise levels in the classroom, in the dining hall, in the playground, and indeed anywhere where there is more than one bimbo italiano are excruciating.

They also find sitting still for longer than five minutes at a time an almost insurmountable challenge.

And they are extremely physical, laying into one another with jaw-dropping vigour – some of the girls even more aggressively belligerent than the boys.

Commands such as “Be quiet!” “Sit down!” “Listen!” “Stop!” do not even figure on their radar. If you raise your voice, they will simply raise theirs in retaliation and drown you out.

Mentioning this in passing to the bidella (caretakers in Italian schools are usually women, and the backbone of the establishment; guarding the entrance, ringing the bell, ensuring discipline in corridors, dolling out classroom resources and ensuring children leave with the correct adult – as well as taking responsibility for the cleaning), she shook her head and told me that even the parents struggle to gain control over their progeny.

Although I am very aware that children grudgingly attending English summer camp are going to be more recalcitrant in a classroom environment than they would be during the academic year, I think there are other elements equally at play.

The natural exuberance of the Italian character, for one. Whilst attending meetings with the parents prior to the start of camp, I noticed that same propensity for loud insistent chat. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that there was somebody standing in front of them attempting to impart information, or that several of their number were trying to ask questions and actually hear the answers.

Also to be taken into account is the fact that Italy is a very child-orientated country. And as one or at the very most two children are the norm, they become the veritable princes and princesses of their homes. With adoring grandparents and overcompensating working parents lavishing them with unconditional love and indulgence, discipline can take a back seat.

But when all is said and done, they were most of them eminently lovable characters, with a wonderfully robust enthusiasm for life. (Just not quite so much enthusiasm for authority).

Italian school lavatories were another shock to my system, when I trotted off for a common-or-garden wee and ended up having to drop and squat over the cavernous mouth of the communal cesspit. OK, that sounds worse than it actually is, but the ‘hole with footprints’ amenities, also beloved of the French, have the ability to frighten my innards into inactivity for a week.

And to continue with the lavatorial theme… Italian schools often do not put soap or towels in the toilets. So before break times or lunchtimes, the children queue up to have a dollop of soap deposited into an outstretched hand by the teacher, and then trot off to the bathrooms clutching hand towels brought in from home.

Even school children take eating extremely seriously in this country. For break times a merenda is pulled out of the school bag. Often a large bread roll stuffed with salame or prosciutto, it is accompanied by a drink and some crisps or a cake. The school mensa then provides a slap-up, three course lunch. Pasta is the starter, followed by ham and tomatoes or meatballs and carrots or similar, accompanied by a bread roll and with a piece of fruit for pudding. Most of the children also request bis, (I understood ‘piss’ and sent one bemused child off to the bathroom) which essentially means “please sir, can I have some more?”.

As diverting as I found my study of the behaviour of the next generation of italiani, I was highly relieved when after two days I was permitted to make good my escape from scuola.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be the end of it…

This is Status Viatoris, far too kool for skool 😉 (she thinks), in Italy.

I’ll Have a Couple of Melons, Please

23/06/2010

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

(The Wifi Internet Connection Fairy has waved his magic wand, and, for the moment at least, SV is connected to the outside world.)

My most recent adventures began on Sunday, when I packed an overnight bag, stocked up on calorific treats and headed for the open road.

Destination –  Volpiano.

Mission – to supervise the opening of a summer camp.

The journey (apart from missing the turn to Torino, dropping my credit card underneath the car whilst trying to pay the toll and then not being able to open the car door because I was parked too close) – uneventful.

Piemonte, however, is absolutely stunning.

The area I was visiting is made up of small, mainly agricultural communities dotted in little clumps around valleys of rolling arable crops, with the snow-capped Alps as a nonchalant backdrop.

Most of the farm buildings are constructed of vibrant red brick which together with the terracotta roof tiles gives everything the pink glow reminiscent of the famous ‘Ville Rose’ of Toulouse.

And that scene played out against a soundtrack of hundreds of swallows swooping gleefully in and out amongst the barns and outbuildings, made it a place as near to my kind of heaven as I could possibly imagine. If only they didn’t have such cold snowy winters… Brrrrr.

One thing I was surprised to see along the stretch of road from the hamlet I was staying in and the next town, was a number of very plump African ladies sitting under umbrellas at intervals alongside the thoroughfare. I assumed, given the agricultural nature of the area and the fact that it was broad daylight,  that they were selling fruit.

They weren’t.

To be continued…

This is Status Viatoris, very relieved she didn’t stop and ask for a lovely pair of coconuts, in Italy.


%d bloggers like this: